Saturday, 24 May 2008

Bordeaux Châteaux - Château Palmer

Château Palmer once belonged to the Gascq family and was part of the ancient estate of Château Issan. Its wines were known as Château de Gascq and were served at the court of Versailles under Louis XV.

Charles Palmer was a friend of the Marquis of Bath and Lord Cambden while studying at Eton and Oxford. In 1808, he succeeded his father as Mayor of the spa town of Bath and was elected a Member of Parliament. Palmer purchased a commission in the prestigious 10th Regiment of Hussars, commanded by the Prince Regent, the future King George IV. He was appointed the Prince's aide-de-camp.

The Napoleonic period was drawing to a close in 1814 when General Charles Palmer arrived in France with the future Duke of Wellington after the Peninsular War between Napoleon and England. Parliament decided to reward him with a large sum of money in gratitude for his father's military services, and he acquired Château de Gascq, on which he left his mark as well as his name.

A gentleman, officer, and aide-de-camp of the Prince of Wales, Charles Palmer was famous at the English court as a ladies man and also for his military victories. He fell under the spell of Bordeaux as well as the charms of Marie de Gascq. The beautiful widow convinced him, during a stagecoach ride delicately referred to as "turbulent" according to legend, to buy her estate.

Palmer expanded the vineyards and thanks to his influential relations "Palmer's Claret” was much sought after by London clubs, and was particularly appreciated by the future King George IV.

In June 1853, the brothers Isaac and Emile Péreire, famous Second Empire bankers and rivals of the Rothschilds, bought Palmer for 413,000 francs, a very considerable amount at the time. They asked the Bordeaux architect Burguet to build the present château in 1856, taking the project begun by General Palmer to its logical conclusion.

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